THE PP'S HIDDEN FINANCES

PP congressman tells judge he took payments included in secret ledgers

Eugenio Nasarre says he received 1,800 euros a month from party treasurers in the period 2000-2004

Ruling Popular Party congressional lawmaker Eugenio Nasarre on Monday confirmed to a judge that he had received money from the PP for a foundation he headed, as well as bonus payments to compensate for additional responsibilities he had within the political group.

The sums Nasarre referred to, which included two payments of 30,000 and 40,000 for the Fundación Humanismo y Democracia (Humanism and Democracy Foundation) and monthly payments in addition to his salary as a deputy of 1,800 euros a month between 2000 and 2004 were noted in secret ledgers maintained by the PP’s former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas.

In light of the Bárcenas papers, initially published by EL PAÍS, High Court Judge Pablo Ruz has extended the existing investigation into the Gürtel kickbacks-for contracts scandal to include a probe of alleged illegal donations to the PP and cash payments to leading party officials.

Nasarre said the sums he received for the foundation in October 2003 were in the form of cash handed over by former PP treasurer Álvaro Lapuerta in the latter’s office and in the presence of Bárcenas. The money was deposited in the foundation’s safe as an “anonymous” donation. He said he included the bonus payments he received in his annual personal income tax declaration.

A source present at Ruz’s interrogation of Nasarre quoted the PP lawmaker as saying he found it normal that deputies who carried out extra duties within the PP should receive bonus payments. These sums were subject to withholding tax paid into his current account.

He described the bonus payment arrangement within the party as “generalized”

Nasarre described the bonus payment arrangement within the party as “generalized.” Nasarre also said he believed it normal practice to declare the sums he received for the foundation as being from an “anonymous donor.”

A judicial committee headed by Judge Ruz was due later Monday to question the speaker of the Senate, Pío García Escudero, about the PP’s financial affairs in the latter’s office. Specifically, Ruz wants to inquire about a payment noted in Bárcenas’ ledgers to García Escudero of one million pesetas (6,000 euros). The Senate speaker told EL PAÍS that the sum in question related to a five-million-peseta-loan (30,000 euros) he received from the party to repair damage to his home caused by a car-bomb explosion by the Basque terrorist group ETA in the summer of 2000.

In the PP’s official accounts there is a reference to a payment of four million pesetas (24,000 euros) paid to García Escudero, who subsequently repaid the amount in installments of one million pesetas. The remaining one million pesetas allegedly came from the alternative accounts maintained by Bárcenas.

Judge Ruz will also question current and former leading PP officials Jaime Ignacio del Burgo, Santiago Abascal, Calixto Ayesa and Jaume Matas. With the exception of Matas, a former premier of the Balearic Islands who was convicted of corruption last year, these officials have acknowledged receiving sums of money included by Bárcenas in his ledgers.

Two of the PP’s current financial affairs team – cashier Luis Molero and head of accounting, Milagros Puente - are also due to be questioned this week.